On March 8, Nidhi Gupta, 31, flung her two children to death, minutes before she herself jumped to her death from her building terrace in Malad. A month later, on April 16, Dipti Chauhan, 31, did the same.
What turns protectors into murderers? Why did these women, who celebrated the birth of their children, kill them? Psychiatrists term this phenomenon as extended suicide, where the person not only tries to end his own life but also the life of one or more family members.
Doctors say that undetected serious psychiatric disorders can lead to extended suicides.
“In such cases, it is very likely that the person has some psychiatric disorder which has either been missed or untreated. The overpowering thought is what will happen to my dear ones once I am gone. It is more dangerous as it is homicide as well as suicide and innocent people die,” said Dr Nilesh Shah, head of psychiatry, Sion hospital.
The thought of ‘what will happen to my children’ is one of the reasons that Bimal Jalan, Nidhi’s father, can think of when he tries to understand what prompted his daughter to kill her children first.
“I had never seen her even scold her children. She must have felt that her children won’t be safe after her death. A lot of times I felt that she was disturbed and wanted to say something,” said Jalan.
It is important to identify the signs and symptoms early, said doctors. Symptoms include sadness, loss of interest in everyday activities, disturbed sleep, irritability and a feeling of hopelessness.
“Suicide is never justified. People should not think that it is acceptable for a person to be depressed in a stressful situation,” said Shah. If the symptoms are identified, irrespective of the cause, they should be treated. Doctors still observe a stigma attached to seeking help from counsellors and psychiatrists.
“People hide their secrets and sorrows because they are ashamed of them. If you are feeling low, shout at the top of your voice that you need help,” said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty.